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December 21, 2016

Pay It Forward Philanthropy Initiative Collects 1,100 Items for Five Ronald McDonald Houses

From left to right are: David Fullard, Jawana Richardson, Hany Abousalem, Laurie Johnson, Larry Johnson, Latanga Blair, fiancée of Syndey Clark, Carmen Feliciano and Sydney Clark at the Ronald McDonald House on Long Island.

From left to right are: David Fullard, Jawana Richardson, Hany Abousalem, Laurie Johnson, Larry Johnson, Latanga Blair, fiancée of Syndey Clark, Carmen Feliciano and Sydney Clark at the Ronald McDonald House on Long Island.

More than 1,100 items were donated to five Ronald McDonald House in New York state, thanks to the Pay It Forward Philanthropic Initiative.

Pay It Forward, a collegewide and statewide effort, encouraged students, alumni, faculty and staff to seek imaginative ways to engage and give back to the college and the communities where they live, work, teach and learn.

Five Ronald McDonald Houses, located in Albany, the Hudson Valley, Rochester, Syracuse and Long Island, benefited from Pay It Forward.

Members of SUNY Empire State College’s Black Male initiative, including students Sydney Clark, BMI’s outreach coordinator, BMI President Lawrence Johnson and recent alumna and BMI First Vice President Jawana Richardson ‘16, together with other students, faculty and staff from the college’s Manhattan and Old Westbury locations, and the James J. Peters VA Medical Center, organized the largest contribution of 400 items, valued in excess of $5,000, which were given to the RMD LI House.

Clark, a U.S. Marine Corp veteran, and David Fullard, a visiting assistant professor and the BMI faculty advisor, worked with the VA medical center to secure 125 new comforters and blankets for the Ronald McDonald House in New Hyde Park.

“The pleasure of being in a place such as the Ronald McDonald house is an amazing and humbling experience,” said Clark. “To see how the kids and their families are received there fills my heart with joy. To be part of something as wonderful as Pay It Forward shows me that there are so many people in the world that still care no matter what state the world is in on any given day.”

“The Long Island house was extremely appreciative of everything we donated and they treated us very well during our visit,” said Richardson, who also serves on the college’s Alumni Student Federation Board of Governors. “We ended up staying there two hours. It warmed our hearts to see the children interacting with their families, watching movies and preparing meals. Our Pay It Forward effort was truly a beautiful collaborative experience.”

“My visit to the Ronald McDonald house on Long Island, moved me emotionally in so many ways,” said Johnson. “It is the spirit of giving and contributing which makes the Black Male Initiative so proud to be a part of Pay It Forward. It means that a child will receive a gift this holiday, a family will be fed and others personal needs will be tended to. We can never fully do justice for all people in need but, if we do something when we are in a position to, then it is worthwhile.”

“This was a really important event,” said Fullard. “BMI is planning to do an event for disadvantaged kids every year around Christmas time. I think it is crucial that we give back to the community as a way of celebrating our own good fortune and helping those who have real needs that oftentimes go unmet.”

Others contributing to this effort include Long Island student Robyn McGee, Lauren Webb the college’s downstate coordinator of regional operations and Fran Rothstein, recruitment secretary at Old Westbury; Manhattan faculty members Keith Rhodd, Raul Manzano, Betty Wilde-Biasiny, Cynthia Ward and Susan Tratner, and staff members Carmen Feliciano, Malongze Foma and Bodo Razaimiandrisoa.

Pay It Forward’s first effort was a collaboration with the college’s Office of Collegewide Student Services to support Ronald McDonald House Charities, beginning at the 2016 Student Academic Conference which was held Friday-Saturday, Oct. 21-22, at the Radisson Hotel, Albany and concluding on Nov. 21.

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